Las Palmas Neighborhoods:
Finding the Barrio That’s Right for You
Finding your little piece of paradise in Las Palmas might just be the most important decision you’ll make when you arrive. There are the obvious factors like price and commute convenience, but for me it’s equally as important to find the barrio of your dreams. The right vibe, the right neighbors, the right corner bar to grab a caña and calamares after a long day.
This is post 1 of 2 – here you’ll find a breakdown of the different barrios in Las Palmas, and here you can find my ultimate guide to apartment hunting in Spain.
A Tale of Two City Centers
There are essentially two city centers in Las Palmas:
sunny, sandy Santa Catalina/Las Canteras, and
historic, cultural Triana/Vegueta.
Just slighty outside of the center, you’ve got affordable student housing and a young, fun atmosphere in Centro, or you can go for the suburban, residential side of life in Siete Palmas and Ciudad Alta.
That leaves us with four basic zones and the barrios you’ll find within them:
Zone One: Santa Catalina: La Isleta – Puerto – Las Canteras – Guanarteme
Zone Two: Triana – Vegueta
Zone Three: Centro
Zone Four & Five: Ciudad Alto – Tamaraceite – San Lorenzo – Tenoya
Zone 1: Beach Bunnies
La Isleta – Las Canteras – Santa Catalina – Puerto – Guanarteme
I grew up in southern California with salty hair and sandy toes, so you can imagine my horror when I escaped 3 years of landlocked Madrid in search of the coast, and was given an English teaching post in Santa Cruz de Tenerife… only to discover that the city has no beach (?!?!). When I made the move to Las Palmas two years ago, living as close as possible to Las Canteras beach was a must.
If you’re dreaming of taking advantage of island life – sun bathing, surf lessons, sand in your sheets, sand in the shower, sand in your whatever – this is the region for you. Here you have all the pros of beach life hand-in-hand with the conveniences of the city.
Going from north to south of the coast, you’ve got 4 general barrios: La Isleta, Santa Catalina, Las Canteras and Guanarteme.
At the most northern point you’ll find La Isleta, where the sand turns to stone and the waves crash against the promenade as it inclines upwards from the shore.
La Isleta is nestled between Las Canteras beach to the south, and the wilder, lesser known El Confital beach to the north, so it’s no surprise that it was traditionally a fishing village.
Though La Isleta now boasts some pretty swag, modern, sea view apartments; it’s still very much a working-class neighborhood at its core, mixed with a bit of a bohemian artist vibe. There’s tons of gorgeous street art and an amazing live music scene thanks to the countless events organized by La Isleta Fabrica Artist Community.
In real estate terms, La Isleta is definitely the next big thing, but for now, you can still buy and rent affordably here.
Get a Room
A room in a shared flat should cost from €250 – €350 per month. Studios start at about €450 and a 1 or 2 bedroom should start from about €550.
There’s a bus hub at Plaza Ingeniero Manuel Becerra and it’s not too far from the Intercambiador de Santa Catalina. Since La Isleta is at the furthest possible point of the city it’s better suited for someone working within Las Palmas rather than someone commuting outside.
Get Lost in La Isleta
My top pic is Isleta Sunset, the live acoustic concerts as the sun dips into the sea held every Sunday outside of Clipper and NYC Taxi Los Nidillos (on the border between La Isleta and La Puntilla). A bit further inland, you can find Fabrica La Isleta HQ where tons of events are held every week, including an open jam session on Thursday nights.
Santa Catalina & Mesa y Lopez
Where the City Meets the Sea
Santa Catalina is the nucleus of this part of Las Palmas. It’s here where you’ll find the main plaza Parque de Santa Catalina as well as this zones’ main bus hub, the Intercambiador de Santa Catalina.
Santa Catalina is super convenient, as everywhere in the area is near the beach, the bus station and the main shopping road (Avenida Mesa y Lopez).
The vibe is somewhat more international here than the rest , so it’s the place to be when you’re craving kimchi, kebabs and anything more than just typical Spanish fare. Outdoor events are held throughout the year in Parque Santa Catalina and there’s no shortage of side streets with terrazas, shops and cafes.
Get a Room
Rooms in shared flats start at about €220 and can go up to €400 per month, while studios should start at about €500 and a one or two bedroom should start from about €550.
The Intercambiador de Santa Catalina is a major bus station and can link you to anywhere within the city, as well as the airport and a few surrounding areas. Santa Catalina connects to Estación San Telmo (in Triana) within about 15 minutes, so it’s not inconvenient if you’re commute is a bit further outside the city, especially if you’re going south.
Get Lost in Santa Catalina
Weekends at the refurbished Mercado del Puerto are great for tapeando and cañas at the various market stalls, often with live music in the background. Ginger is on the front line of the promenade at the northern La Puntilla side and prepares the best upscale gin and tonics in town. Calle Ruiz de Alda is a lively pedestrian street with no shortage of terrace space to grab a bite or have a drink, and there’s always a crowd at the many sidewalk cafes in Plaza Faray.
Sun Worshipers (squeezing in between the tourists)
As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, Las Canteras in the 3.5 kilometers of coastline that sprawls along the western coast of the city from the border of La Isleta in touristic La Puntilla to the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium in my beautiful barrio, Guanarteme.
Las Canteras has been rated one of the top ten beaches in Spain and has a blue flag from the European Union. The area from Las Canteras at the west to the port at the east is so narrow that apartment websites usually list everything in the area under Santa Catalina, so prices and details are the same as those above, except at the front line of the beach – and let’s face it – none of us can afford that! 😊
Surfers, Sea Lovers & Free Spirits
The moment I stepped foot into Guanarteme I knew it was the barrio for me. This neighborhood is characterized by Playa La Cicer, the biggest waves and the best spot for surfing and bodyboarding on Las Canteras beach.
Twenty years ago, Guanarteme wasn’t connected to the rest of Las Canteras by the promenade and was considered to be a rough neighborhood, complete with chickens in the streets and fisherman selling their wares from wheelbarrows fresh from the sea. All that changed with the construction of the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium, the extension of the paseo maritime and finally the construction of the massive Las Arenas Shopping Center.
Nowadays, Guanarteme is the cool, up-and-coming neighborhood bordering on a fine line between hippy and hipster. Tourists sometimes make it down on their way to and from Las Arenas, but the general vibe is Spanish and local. There are plenty of bars and cafes and you can always find live music on the weekend, especially on Saturday nights.
Get a Room
As Guanarteme becomes trendier, prices are rising FAST and pisos are harder to come by (think Malasaña in Madrid for those that have been in España for a while). Rooms in shared flats start at about €250 per month. Studios should start at about €550 – €600 and one bedrooms start from about €600.
My partner and I pay €600/month (before gastos) for a 2 bed/1 ½ bath just three blocks from the beach and we’re constantly told by people in the know that it was a lucky find. My neighbor pays €525 for her studio.
There are plenty of yellow city buses that can take you to Santa Catalina, Triana and anywhere in between. While there is no major bus hub here, the barrio is near the northern highway and the blue Global buses that leave from Las Arenas Shopping Center can conveniently take you north to cities like Arucas and Galdar. Heading south outside of the city can be a mission and always means a stop and bus change at the San Telmo bus station.
Get Lost in Guanarteme
I have so many favorites here it’s hard to choose! Watching the sunset over the Atlantic while sipping a mojito from the terraza at Mumbai Sunset Bar, grabbing a seitan veggie burger at Tiramisu in the Plaza de Pilar or following the Agua Viva live music route from bar to bar every Saturday night.
Zone 2: The Historic Center
Triana and Vegueta
Years ago, Triana and Vegueta boasted their own beaches, but those have long been lost to the construction of the GC-1 coastal highway. What remains, however, is gorgeous 15th century architecture, a variety of museums and galleries, terrazas for days and lots of hidden corners to get lost in.
San Telmo Bus Station is located in Triana, making it relatively easy and convenient to commute to various parts of the island, especially the south and the airport. The university is nearby, so there should be plenty of affordable rooms in shared housing available.
Vegueta is the oldest part of the city, and in my opinion, the most beautiful. It’s where you’ll find the Catedral de Santa Ana, Casa de Colón, and plenty of cobblestones.
When the weather warms up, concerts by known Spanish artists (Rozalén, Fuel Fandango, etc) are sometimes held in Plaza de Santa Ana and Carnaval del Día in Vegueta is by far my favorite part of Las Palmas’ Carnaval celebrations in February.
Get a Room
You should be able to find a room here for €300 – €350, a studio for about €500 and a one or two bedroom starting at around €650.
There’s a pretty active bus hub near the Teatro Perez Galdos, and if that doesn’t get you where you need to go, the nearby San Telmo Station in Triana will.
Get Lost in Vegueta
Whether you want culture, tapas, music or shopping, Vegueta has it. Thursday nights in Vegueta are a blast on Calle Mendizábal, where dozens of restaurants participate in the Ruta de Pincho (Tapas Thursday) – a pincho and a caña or glass of wine for just a couple of euros. I also love the vegetarian tapas at La Vegueta de Colón, just behind the cathedral.
Just beside Vegueta is the similarly charming barrio of Triana. Here you can shop till you drop on Calle Mayor, enjoy the music from the buskers and the many markets and fairs held throughout the year in Parque San Telmo, or simply get lost on any of the little side streets that spill off from the pedestrian road.
There are a couple of gritty streets to avoid, but all in all Triana is cute and very quaint and conveniently located, especially if you’re commuting outside of the city.
Get a Room
Because there are lots of students in Triana, you could potentially find a room for as low as about €200 – €300. Studios and one or two beds tend to be harder to come by in this area, but could start for as low as about €500 and €600, respectively.
If you have a crazy long commute to a pueblo in the south, chances are Triana is the place for you. Both the yellow city buses and blue global buses are constantly popping in and out of the station.
Get Lost in Triana
My favorite place to bring out-of-town guests is the rooftop of La Azoteo de Benito, complete with comfy couches and cathedral views from above. There are plenty of charming cafes dotted around the smaller roads, like Zoe, one of my favorite vegetarian breakfast spots.
Zone 3: Centro
Alcaravaneras – Ciudad Jardín – Arenales
“Centro” here refers to the central location between Triana and Santa Catalina, as well as being the area the houses most of the government offices.
Work Out While Working on Your Tan
Although it’s not my beach of choice, Alcaravaneras Beach is definitely a happy medium if you’re looking for a good combination between the coast, the cost and an easy commute. It’s conveniently located just east of Santa Catalina and a bit north of San Telmo station.
The many ships in the nearby port mean less-than-perfect postcard views, but it is a great spot for beach volleyball, paddle ball and ultimate frisbee. Plus, the water is super smooth for swimming laps.
Get a Room
You should be able to find a room here for less than €300, and maybe even as low as €220. Studios start at around €500 and apartments at around €550.
Located just beside the GC-1 highway, it’s easy enough to hop a bus to San Telmo to get wherever you need to go for your daily commute.
Get Lost in Alcaravaneras
The nearby Muelle Deportivo is a great area along the water to grab a bite or a drink and it’s walking distance from Santa Catalina.
Peace & Quiet
Ciudad Jardin is quiet, pleasant, and mostly pretty posh. It’s located near Triana and Alcaravaneras, but typically not budget friendly for those looking to rent a studio or full flat. There are plenty of green spaces, like the Parque Doramas and the garden in front of the Hotel Santa Catalina, and it’s quite close to Playa Alcaravaneras for all your beachy needs.
Get a Room
You should be able to find a room for about €300. Studios and one bedrooms are much harder to come by here, as it’s mainly family oriented.
Near the GC-1 highway, so you should be able to hop a bus around the city, or to San Telmo if you’ve got to commute further.
Get in Ciudad Jardin
This area is mainly residential, but features Tao – one of the most popular after hours clubs/chillouts in the area, and Patio Canario – a charming colonial style square which often offers free live music concerts on Saturday evenings.
Tomas Morales & Obelisco
Ballin’ on a Budget
Arenales – Lugo – Avenida Marítima
Thanks to the university nearby, this area is very student friendly and one of the least expensive areas to find a shared room. The area surrounding Tomas Morales and Obelisco is packed with students and rooms are almost always up for grabs. There’s plenty of bars, cafes and young people to flirt with and teach ya Spanish ;).
Get a Room
You should be able to find a room here for between €180 and €300.
Catch a quick bus to San Telmo if you need to leave the city, otherwise the yellow city buses will take you wherever you need to go.
Zone 4 & 5: Suburbia
Siete Palmas – Ciudad Alta – Tamaraceite – San Lorenzo – Tenoya
Ciudad Alta and the rest are actually officially two totally seperate districts, but for our purposes I’m lumping them together as one simple category: suburbia. I worked in this region for a year, and though I have nothing bad to say about it, I can wholeheartedly say that it’s not where I’d want to live as a 20-something living it up in Las Palmas.
That being said however, I do have a few Canario friends that live here because A. rent is cheaper, B. they have cars or C. they have kids, hence, the ‘burbs.
I haven’t spent enough time there to give any real details, so instead I’ll link ya to idealist to get an idea about rent prices. Are there worse places to live? Absolutely. Would I recommend this area? Not particularly.
Which barrio catches your eye?
Hopefully this leaves you with an idea about where you wanna call home, but don’t take my word for it!
The best way to choose a piso is to spend a couple of days hoofing it through the city and deciding where you see yourself. The average person sleeps about 3,600 hours a year… might as well do it somewhere you like!
Finding a Flat in Spain
Find the rest of my piso-related consejos in the links below and get ready to make yourself at home in lovely Las Palmas 😊
Part 2: Home is Where
the Heart Is You Don’t Hate Your Roommates ❤ (coming soon)
Love & Light (and a smooth apartment hunt!),